Sugarbones on Sailor Moon, Vintage Pin-ups and Deceptively Cute Art
Sugarbones is so sweet she’ll give you a toothache. This Ontario-based artist and designer fuses kawaii motifs with sexy pin-ups. Sometimes her art is darkly hilarious like small, soft bunnies carrying knives. And then other times it’s just plain cheeky: snake ssstripper shedding its pastel pink ssskin. (Get it?) Cute? Good? Bad? Funny? Sugarbones art makes you do a double take!
Please introduce yourself.
Hi! I’m Sugarbones, an artist and designer from Ontario, Canada! I’ve been running my own web shop for over 5 years specializing in transforming my designs into items such as enamel pins, accessories and statement apparel.
How would you describe your personal style?
There is definitely a distinct duality to my style depending on my environment. I spend a lot of time at home working on my artwork and business, so I love being as cozy as possible. Oversized sweaters are my best friends. When I do get out, I love a spectacle. I have the most fun when I put outfits together like costumes, envisioning a character behind them. I think all clothing speaks and gives a vibe, so it’s always a good time letting a fluffy faux fur coat make you feel like a campy mafia wife, or serving Kim Possible in cargo pants and a crop top.
Your social media and artwork are all pink and sweet. So why describe yourself as “good at being bad”?
I’ve always been a bad girl at heart, and to me, being “bad” has always represented something rebellious, confident, empowering and free. Since I was young, I have always challenged the conformity that society placed on girls to be docile, polite and accommodating, while watching my male counterparts be praised for being aggressive, strong and bold.
I used to think that in order to have these qualities, I had to completely abandon “girly” aesthetics to seperate myself from the gender stereotypes. I had to ask myself: Why would I need to shed my femininity to appear stronger when those things could and should coexist? Realizing the potential behind my own agency to reclaim my unapologetic love of sparkles, satins and pastels, and incorporating them into my artwork was life changing.
You’re an artist, designer, and social media figure. How do you balance it all?
Aside from dreaming up and designing products, I also have to take care of the production, sourcing manufacturers, photography, website design, as well as keeping the stockroom running smoothly and responding to customer inquiries!
Finding a balance has been a struggle over the years, and I am constantly learning and listening to my mental health in order to tweak my workflow and avoid burn out. My best advice for finding a balance is to realize that you cannot do everything alone, and to seek help when it’s needed. Your brain will thank you!
The characters you draw are often strong and unashamedly flaunting their curves. What do you love about drawing strong, confident women? How did you develop this style?
Growing up in the 90s, I was absolutely enamored by Sailor Moon. I vividly remember the first time I caught it on television, and it was unlike anything I had ever seen before. My mind was blown. They were so cool, strong and supportive, and I desperately wanted to be just like them. I would get my parents to tape episodes and pause it at certain parts so I could redraw the scenes, and the energy of the sailor scouts became the foundation for my artwork for years to come.
Throughout my life, I’ve always loved drawing girls, and my characters have grown up with me. My relationship with my own body and sexuality has strengthened in my adulthood, and I can reflect that feeling of confidence through the pin-up style narratives I use to tell stories.
Is edgy humour an important part of your art?
Absolutely! I try to add a little cheekiness to everything I make. I love making things that evoke emotion and deliver doses of serotonin, and I like to call my work deceptively cute. I love making designs that invite the viewer to look a little closer, or take a moment to decipher. A lot of my designs are visually very colourful, soft and cute, so putting a little spice into them creates a fun juxtaposition that I hope makes people smile.
Who or what are your creative inspirations?
I draw a lot of my inspiration and influences from pop culture, bad girls, deceptively cute animals, cheeky humour and nostalgia. As of late, Medusa has been my muse. The story of Medusa is so tragic: a victim who was made into a villain, used as a tool of male aggression, and cursed to turn anyone who looks upon her into stone. I love drawing her in positions of power and thriving.
What would be your dream collaboration?
I’d love to collaborate with a make-up brand one day! I’d love to design a Sugarbones eyeshadow palette, or maybe some lashes! I think that would be so fun to put together!
Introduction and questions by Ash.
Images courtesy of Sugarbones.